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Most gumbos begin with a roux—a flavorful thickener made by cooking fat with flour. But there are as many ways to make a gumbo as there are cooks in Louisiana. Many versions of the dish, especially those of Creole origin, are made without a roux, including this recipe from The Picayune’s Creole Cookbook, which uses a combination of tomatoes and okra as a thickener. While adding tomatoes to gumbo is heresy in many Cajun kitchens, Creole cooks are fans of the bright, sweet complexity they add to the dish—and so are we.

Yield: serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp. lard or butter
  • One 3 1/2–4 lb. chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • Kosher salt and cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 4 oz. tasso, minced
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 large yellow onion, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 6 large vine-ripe tomatoes, peeled, cored, and minced
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 lb. okra, trimmed and sliced 1/2 inch thick crosswise
  • Cooked white rice, for serving

Instructions

  1. In an 8-quart Dutch oven over medium-high, melt 2 tablespoons of the lard or butter. Season the chicken with salt and cayenne; cook, turning as needed, until browned, 10–15 minutes. Add the tasso; cook 5 minutes. Add the thyme, bay leaf, onion, and bell pepper; cook until golden, 10–12 minutes. Add the parsley and tomatoes; cook until tomatoes break down, 4–5 minutes. Add the stock; boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low; cook until the chicken is cooked through and the gumbo is slightly thickened, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons lard or butter. Add the okra and cook until golden brown and slightly crisp, 8–10 minutes, then stir into gumbo; cook 15 minutes more. Serve with rice.

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